The economy seems to be picking up a little, and more and more job seekers are coming to us and letting us know about internal opportunities within their organization that they would like to apply to. But even as more opportunities open up, the competition is as strong—or stronger than ever before. Here are seven ways your resume isn’t quite cutting it. So take it out, brush it off, and let’s kick it up a notch.
It’s still sporting that outdated objective.
If your resume is utilizing an objective, you really should trash it and start all over with a fresh, powerful introduction that incorporates a personal branding statement. A tailored career summary and polished personal branding statement will catch the employer’s attention and give him or her the best information up front—the information he or she needs to make a decision to call you to schedule an interview.
The design/format is generic or elementary for your professional level and experience.
There is a strategy behind resume formatting and design. If you are an executive, yet you are using an entry level resume format, you will look unprofessional and under-qualified.
It’s missing important keywords
Omit keywords and the software system scanning your resume can’t find you. The recruiter giving your resume a quick once-over is looking for specific keywords as well. Leave them out and you’ll be left out of the interview process.
Generic and/or vague statements.
Avoid using the same old terminology that everyone else uses in their resumes. Yes, we know you can problem solve. But instead of telling me you’re a problem solver, show me the result of a problem you solved.
Soft skills vs. hard skills
And the championship goes to … hard skills. I used to be a full-time recruiter, and I used Monster and CareerBuilder to search for candidates. Not once did I ever enter the search terms: great communicator, excellent verbal skills, detail-oriented. These are universal statements that millions use to describe themselves. Give me something tangible and relevant to the position I am trying to fill.
Duties and responsibilities
Instead of wasting valuable real estate on your resume providing me with a rundown of your job description (the same one I’ve read a million times as a hiring manager), show me what you achieved, what you accomplished, and what you contributed in the past. WOW me with something other than the predictable, mundane job description. I want to know the challenges you faced in your previous roles, how you addressed them, and the results you obtained. This makes you different from everyone else. No two people will have the exact same experiences. Your experiences are what make you outshine your competition—USE THEM TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.
Are you passive or active?
Using terminology that is passive is boring and lacks action. Instead of using phrases like ‘served as’, ‘duties included’, ‘promoted to’, ‘worked with’ … choose strong action verbs. Action verbs do just what they say: they convey action and, ultimately, results. The hiring manager is interested in results you can provide about what you did along the way. Choose terms like: Launched, Catapulted, Spearheaded, and Pioneered. These terms tell me something. They show me the action you took and captivate my attention so that I want to read on to discover the results you achieved.
Your resume needs to do two things: It needs to capture the hiring manager’s attention—and it needs to motivate him or her to pick up the phone and call you for an interview. If you look and sound like everyone else, you have no competitive advantage. And therefore, you’ve provided the HR person with zero motivation to pick up the phone, call you, and schedule an interview. Stop creating a ‘same old, same old’ resume that looks and feels just like everyone else’s. Start today by adding some variety and focusing on your accomplishments.
View professional resume samples or submit your resume via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for a free resume analysis.
Jessica Holbrook Hernandez is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, speaker and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast. She creates high-impact, best-in-class resumes and cover letters that transform job searches into interviews and ultimately job offers. For more information about professional resume writing or to read more career and job search related articles visit http://www.greatresumesfast.com or call 1.800.991.5187.